The Office Christmas Party is the perfect opportunity for employees to let their hair down and socialise with their co-workers, but there have been countless recollections of embarrassing antics once the levels of alcohol increase and all inhibitions are out of the window. The office party has a knack of damaging the reputation of the most professional of employees.
So, what sort of things can employers expect?
Research shows that one in 10 workers have been disciplined or dismissed for their behaviour at an office Christmas party. Here are some of the things to look out for:
Amorous colleagues – flirting, dirty dancing and getting up close and personal, and maybe even confessions of undying love for another co-worker. Alcohol affects our judgment, and so employees who over-indulge may end up in a compromising position the next morning and be party to office scandal.
Office banter – employees love to indulge in a little harmless office banter but must be careful that it doesn’t become inappropriate or offensive. When the alcohol is flowing and everyone is having a good laugh, the jokes can be at the expense of someone’s feelings.
Inappropriate behaviour – Falling asleep in the corner of the room, crying, being sick or falling over in front of co-workers will make for great entertainment for employees and their Facebook friends. This can leave the individual with feelings of dread and shame the next day, and the highlight of the office gossip!
So, what should employers do to avoid these situations?
- Take some sensible steps to prevent any unwanted behaviour; remind staff that the party is a still a ‘work’ event and that they are ambassadors of the business when they are socialising – normal employment rules still apply.
- You may want to take time to send a written note to staff if you know they like to have a particularly wild time when they socialise together. Make it clear what is considered to be acceptable behaviour.
- Be very clear on expectations the next day. If the party is on a week day and staff are expected to be in and working, make it known what the implications will be if they do not turn up. Speak to them upfront, and preferably in a team meeting, as opposed to over email.
- Remain in control yourself if you are in attendance, if things do take a turn for the worse, know your rights in terms of disciplinary action so that you’re clear on how you will deal with it when you return to work.
Whatever happens, the truth is that we are only human, and people do slip up and lose control sometimes but it’s important that the aftermath is handled appropriately. Try and put it into perspective, accept apologies and try not to make a big deal of it and definitely don’t publicly embarrass anyone any further. Ultimately, it will be a learning curve for next year!